Nfld. & Labrador

On FHRITP, and how Shauna Hunt became my new hero

A vulgar confrontation caught on camera between soccer fans and a female reported sparked discussion on social media and, as CBC's Jonathan Crowe writes, teaches a valuable lesson about harassment.
CityNews reporter Shauna Hunt was confronted by soccer fans in Toronto who shouted a vulgar trend at her on camera, but she turned the tables on them, writes CBC's Jonathan Crowe. (CityNews)

I have a new hero. She's a reporter with CityNews in Toronto. By now you've probably heard of her.

Her name is Shauna Hunt.

She earned my admiration and that of thousands of other people for what she did a week ago in less than two minutes of cringe-worthy live television.

If you haven't seen the video, watch it now. If you're like me, it'll It send your emotions on a roller coaster ride — from blood boiling anger to unabashed admiration.

Let's set the scene. Ms. Hunt was reporting live from outside the Toronto FC grounds. It was the usual spectacle: boozed up young men wearing soccer colours.

Her job was to chat to them about Toronto FC's home opener, but then a routine live TV hit took a dramatic left turn.

Things got nasty. One of the soccer fans leaned into the microphone and uttered the words f--k her right in the p---y.

The guy quickly melted into the crowd, but there were several other sniggering soccer fans nearby who seemed to think what had just happened was somehow funny. We all know guys like this. They're the bystanders, the folks who give any mob its critical mass.

The laughs would be short lived for the gang of leering lads. Obviously fed up to the back teeth, Ms. Hunt turned the tables.

No match for her

She's admitted this wasn't the first time she's been verbally assaulted in this way so she turned around, waded into the smirking crowd of louts and confronted them — all with the camera rolling.

Shauna Hunt asked them why they thought this was funny. The first guy was no match for her, but then another guy in a yellow jersey stepped forward.

If we judge her by her actions in a split second on one particular day, Shauna Hunt is a role model. Not just for women, but for all of us.- Jonathan Crowe

A walking, smirking wisecrack — he was not at all apologetic. When Ms. Hunt asked him what his mother would think, he said, "My mom would die laughing eventually."

But neither mom, nor anyone else, was laughing by the time the video hit media websites and mutated across social media.

The story went national, then international. The man in the yellow jersey was quickly identified.

Stereotypical soccer yob? Nope. Turns out Shawn Simoes is well educated — an engineer at Ontario's Hydro One, making over $100,000 a year.

To their credit, the managers at Hydro One sent Mr. Simoes and the public a strong message: they fired him.

The Toronto Football Club banned Simoes and a couple of other fans and has promised to beef up security for television reporters.

Sparking debate

My colleague Chris O'Neill-Yates has written at length on the FHRIP phenomenon. Yes, the phenomenon has landed here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

If you haven't already read her column, you should. For a female television reporter this is no holds barred workplace harassment in it's nastiest form.

would you stand up in your office and yell an obscenity at a female coworker?- Jonathan Crowe

The incident last weekend has spawned an intense discussion. One aspect of the debate is about  young men, sexism, entitlement, rape culture and the rest of it.

The other is about the right of an employer to fire someone who breaks the employee code of conduct even if they're off the job.

My gut tells me Hydro One did the right thing.

I don't want to dismiss the deeper discussion. Instead, I'm here to praise Shauna Hunt for providing us all with an immensely satisfying teachable moment.

She turned the camera on the bullies and, like all bullies, they withered in the face of confrontation.

Now, thanks to her quick thinking and the power of viral social media, the Neanderthals amongst us have had a chance to see themselves as they are. They'll be looking at their own leering faces on the web for a long time.

At the least it's humiliating, for Shawn Simoes it may have been fatal to his career.

As a father of three daughters …

It's my strong hope that the men who stood by and looked on as this was happening should also see themselves as they are. It's also a lesson to all of us who've been by standers to this kind of spectacle.

We all need to realize that sexual harassment is not cool or funny under any circumstance.

Ask yourself this: would you stand up in your office and yell an obscenity at a female coworker? Would you stand around and smirk while someone else in your office did the same?

I am the father of three daughters. Two are in their early twenties, one is about to turn seventeen. I am sorry to say that already, all three have encountered sexual harassment.

I'm sure by now that my three daughters have seen Ms. Hunt's performance. It's my hope that they learned form it. Such a spontaneous, smart and brave reaction.

I don't know Shauna Hunt, but I do know this. If we judge her by her actions in a split second on one particular day, Shauna Hunt is a role model. Not just for women, but for all of us.

Whatever Shauna Hunt goes on to do in her career, she'll have a hard time topping the social impact of what she did last Sunday afternoon. This was the template for dealing with misogynist idiots and bullies of all stripes.


Jonathan Crowe cohosts Here & Now for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. He has previously worked as a reporter, producer and videojournalist.